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“Don’t Trust UP Cops”: Akhilesh Yadav remark on terror arrests sparks row

Lucknow: Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav’s comment appearing to raise doubts about the arrest of two terrorists in Uttar Pradesh has sparked a political backlash in poll season.

“I cannot trust the UP police and especially the BJP government,” Akhilesh Yadav told reporters on Sunday. However, his party alleges that an edited clip is being circulated to create a wrong impression and that the former Chief Minister spoke at a time nothing was known about the arrests, least of all that the terrorists are believed to be linked to global terror outfit Al Qaeda.

The UP government said on Sunday that two terrorists of the Al Qaeda-supported Ansar Ghazwatul Hind had been arrested by its Anti-Terror Squad from the outskirts of Lucknow on Sunday. They were planning explosions, including using “human bombs”, at several places in Uttar Pradesh, according to the police.

Minhaz Ahmed and Maseeruddin were arrested and a huge amount of explosives was also seized from their homes in Lucknow, Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.

According to Mr Kumar, the two were planning to “unleash terror activities before August 15 (Independence Day) in different cities including Lucknow”.

He also said Ahmed and Maseeruddin were acting on the instructions of Umar Halmandi, the head of the Uttar Pradesh branch of the Al-Qaeda.

“They were planning explosions at important places, memorials and crowded places, and also to use human bombs. For this, they were collecting weapons and explosives,” Mr Kumar said.

According to the police officer, Maulana Asim Umar, who headed the Al-Qaeda in the sub-continent and was killed in 2019, had links with Sambhal in Uttar Pradesh.

As political sparring intensifies ahead of the UP polls next year, BJP leaders shared Akhilesh Yadav’s comments on social media, along with their recriminations.